As a project manager for Willmeng Construction, Tom Fyffe is responsible for planning and executing projects by ensuring the team is prepared and performing at their best. He’s known for his loyalty, passion, commitment and desire to always do the right thing. After a nine-year career in the Marine Corps that helped him develop strong management and effective leadership skills, Fyffe worked as an estimator and project manager for a steel subcontractor before joining Willmeng in 2016. “For me, construction is all about giving back to the community,” explains Fyffe. “We are building the infrastructure for others to have a better tomorrow.” Learn more about him in this month’s Q&A:
How did you get started in your career?
I left the military in 2010 with the intentions of becoming a high school mathematics teacher. While awaiting the next semester of college, my best friend, who was a Project Manager for a steel subcontractor, asked me if I would be interested in helping him during the peak of construction for that year. I committed for three months to assist him in estimating projects with the understanding that I would return to school to become a teacher. Ultimately, I spent a total of six years with the company as an Estimator and Project Manager while also completing my bachelor degree in construction management at Arizona State University.
Provide a synopsis of your leadership role.
My leadership role as a Project Manager is the overall responsibility for a successful planning and execution of project by making sure that the team is prepared and performing at their best. Successful project managers are managers who practice both strong management skills and effective leadership skills. Effective leaders develop new leadership skills to complement those that made them successful as managers.
What is the toughest professional challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome that challenge?
In the military, I experienced multiple deployments overseas in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti and Haiti. Each deployment presented unique challenges and life changing experiences. During my nine-year career in the Marine Corps I had a great support system in the men and women that served with me combined with family and friends encouraging me in every step. The Willmeng culture strives to promote an Esprit De Corps and leave no man or women behind.
Growing up, what did you aspire to be?
From the age of 4-15, I wanted nothing more than to be the first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. During these years my world revolved around sports, specifically baseball. Nothing beats watching Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Shawon Dunston, Greg Maddox and Kerry Wood except for maybe listening to Harry Caray sing take me out to the ballgame.
What is your favorite leadership quote/saying and why?
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
I love this quote because often times we think that the most intelligent and successful people are somehow perfect and get nothing wrong. In fact, this is just the opposite. Success is more due to the inability to give up and centered on drive more than anything else.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Whether its swimming with the family or encouraging them at their sporting events, I try to be involved as much as I can with my family. Nothing beats camping and fishing with friends and family. The sound of the water smacking the hull of the boat is very soothing.
What is No. 1 on your commercial real estate bucket list and why is it No. 1?
For me there are too many items on my bucket list. I would love to build a hospital, fire station, police station, or any military orientated projects. For me construction is all about giving back to the community. We are building the infrastructure for others to have a better tomorrow. This same principle is used on any of the projects that I am a part of. All of our daily efforts are done to help the person to the left and right of us in hopes to collectively bring a project to our client and the community in which we live in.
What is your next big personal goal?
To spend as much time as I can with my family, ensure that my children are raised correctly, and stay as in shape and healthy as possible. My next personal goal is probably finding a way to go fly fishing with my mother.
Describe a moment, turning point, or epiphany that made the difference in your life.
Probably the biggest turning points in my life are when I stepped foot on the yellow footprints in boot camp, getting married to my wife, having children, and choosing construction as my profession. The best part of all of these are the simple fact even when you think you know what you are getting into I would say you do not have a clue what you are about to embark on. Enjoy the ride.
What 3-5 qualities combine to make a “rock star” business leader?
Enthusiasm, integrity, great communication skills, loyalty, and decisiveness combined is a great recipe for an amazing leader.